Will retiring Vettel inspire a new generation of ‘activist drivers’?

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“It’s only a matter of time, [time] that we don’t have.” Those were the words of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel as he announced his retirement at the Hungarian Grand Prix, citing environmental concerns directly linked with Formula One and adding he wanted the chance to watch his family grow up.

The four-times world champion, alongside Lewis Hamilton, has been integral in changing the landscape of motorsport in ways beyond their successes. Both have spoken out passionately about the need for prompt action to address climate change and improve diversity, inclusivity and LGBTQ+ rights.

Vettel was branded a ‘hypocrite’ by those who claimed a Formula 1 driver has no business criticising others on environmental grounds. He pushed back during his retirement announcement, saying: “When it comes to the climate crisis there is no way that Formula 1, or any sport or business can avoid it because it impacts on all of us.” He even drove Nigel Mansell’s 1992 Formula 1 championship-winning car at Silverstone using carbon-neutral fuel, claiming this showed how easy switching to sustainable substances would be.

But Vettel’s impending departure – and the expectation Hamilton, two years his senior, does not have many more years left in him – has prompted questions about who would continue to raise awareness for such causes in F1 after they are gone. In 2019, F1 committed to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 as part of a wider sustainability strategy, which is one example of the progress Hamilton and Vettel have pushed for.

Report: “Yes I am a hypocrite” admits Vettel after politician’s broadside over oil sands helmet
Hamilton has put his money and time to help change the landscape of F1 and make it more diverse through his Hamilton Commission. At the first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Vettel took a group of women go-karting, throwing the spotlight on rights which were only belatedly granted to the country’s female population recently. Who will do this kind of thing, and put pressure on those at the top to make change happen, after these two champions are gone?

Both drivers began their careers during the Bernie Ecclestone era. The 91-year-old former F1 CEO’s recent remarks on race and politics (some of which he later retracted) left much to be desired, and given that it’s not hard to imagine that under his watch some could have felt reluctant to speak out.

As things stand, once Vettel leaves the majority of drivers on the grid will have made their debuts after Liberty Media took over the sport. Today’s drivers feel freer to speak out.

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Vettel also said his priorities changed as he got older, and suggested the same may happen to the current batch of younger drivers.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Mugello, 2020
Hamilton has also become increasingly outspoken
“I think there’s just a normal sort of progression,” said Vettel. “We have the immense privilege of travelling the world, seeing so many things, and if you don’t ignore everything, then it does something to you.

“I’m not a standing-out example, I look at my friends around me and their thoughts are very different to what I remember the thoughts they had when they were in their early twenties. So I think part of it is just normal.”

He expects the emerging generation of drivers will feel the effects of climate change more sharply. “What hurts me is that people like George [Russell], Lando [Norris], Charles [Leclerc], Max [Verstappen], they don’t have the same freedoms as maybe Lewis and I had.

“And whoever is coming after them will have even less freedoms because it will be more and more central and dictating more and more the way we are living and have to adapt our lives.

“That I don’t think is fair and I’m prepared and ready to fight for this sort of justice and fairness to have the same, for the kids that are go-karting today, to be able to have the same racing career that I had.”

But naturally, a driver coming up through the ranks does not have the same gravitas as one with a couple of world titles in their locker.

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Norris is one example of a younger driver who has used his time in F1 to raise awareness for mental health, like his team mate Daniel Ricciardo. He doesn’t think it’s realistic to expect a driver in the early stages of their career to be as outspoken as Vettel and Hamilton have been.

Norris says Vettel leaves big shoes to fill
“I don’t think anyone in their first five years of Formula 1 is going to fill boots of a guy in his final year,” said Norris.

“The Seb of now is a very different Seb from five or 10 years ago. The ruthless Seb doesn’t look so ruthless anymore.

“It’s very difficult, and I don’t think you can put pressure on any young driver, to say, ‘why aren’t you doing what Seb is doing?’, because young Seb wasn’t doing what Seb’s doing now.

“Everyone’s different. Some people want to stay out of it completely and some people want to help.”

Nonetheless this, Norris stressed he sympathises with Vettel’s position. “There’s no reason why I wouldn’t want to speak up and say things,” he continued. “It’s just in the world we’re living in now, it’s not easy to just say what I feel and give my opinion because there’s so many people who would criticise that opinion.”

“But I would love to because I believe he’s saying everything and he’s doing everything he can for the best reason.

“He’s creating chit chat and he’s creating headlines, which is his whole thing he’s trying to do.”

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Norris is not wrong: Some drivers on the grid have no interest in speaking out. Some feel their job is to drive racing cars, they’re not politicians, so why should they get involved?

Vettel intends to carry on his work outside F1
But F1 has changed. Drive to Survive has made these individuals superstars like never before, household names and heroes of many new young fans exploring the sport for the first time. If Beatlemania proved anything, it is that those in the public eye have a lot more sway than many politicians anyway.

Hamilton believes Vettel had that power, and hoped some of the older voices in the sport will be replaced by the new message he and the German have been sharing.

“We often stand on the shoulders of greats from the past – whether it’s in this sport or other sports.

“I really hope that he inspires the next generation – whether it’s this one or the younger generation that will be coming through – to be more confident and utilising their platform and realising it’s not just about them and their car, it’s about something far, far bigger than being here.

“I really hope we see more people like him. But I can’t guarantee that.”

Vettel’s legacy goes further than racing. He, and Hamilton, have helped shape the sport, for the better. Their places in the sport will, in time, be taken by new talents seeking championships of their own. Now, will they also learn from one of the greats in the sport that the battle isn’t always on track.

Nor is it over. As Vettel said: “My best race? Still to come.”

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Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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113 comments on “Will retiring Vettel inspire a new generation of ‘activist drivers’?”

  1. Let’s hope not.

    1. +1.
      Outside racing, drivers dont seem very bright and, in the current days, when a 20yo is already getting multimillion dollars contracts, they are getting disconnected from the rest of the world.
      I wonder, how activist can one driver be when one of the main sponsors fro their series and team is a oil company with a less than perfect record on civil rights. I dont remember Vettel using the attire on the photo above in the KSA GP.
      It is important to champion good causes, but, given where F1 gets and spends its money, activist driver sounds kind of fake.
      For instance, what is the point of promoting th hybrid power units on the cars, when most footprint comes from the logistic part of the circus? Apparently, all the fuel spent in a weekend by the cars is equivalente to one transatlantic flight. But F1 cargo takes more than that, not counting the private jets.

      1. I don’t know if you’ve seen the stat, but F1 cars are responsible for only 0.7% of the carbon footprint of F1.
        All the trucks, buses, airplanes etc. produce the 99.3% of air pollution F1 creates.
        So yeah, Vettel has been raging about the more trendy…. and over a 100x less important part of the equation.

    2. +1 Fortunately, the current crop of young drivers seems quite based. They are racers and F1 remains their priority. As it should be at this stage of life.

      I hope see less and less activism as Seb and Lewis retire. Whether their message is good or bad, last thing I want is a political campaign while watching F1

      1. Hear hear. Couldn’t agree more.

    3. Depends a bit on the cause, no? If nothing else, it would be rather amusing to see a proper left-wing driver advocating for international cooperation to end tax evasion and dodging and speak passionately about a wealth rather than income tax while being content to drive for… let’s say the average or median wage in their country of origin.

      That said, for most economic, environmental and social cases it’d be hard to imagine worse advocates than F1 drivers.

      1. It’s not about the worthiness of the causes. It’s about polluting a sporting event with an agenda. I’m absolutely fine with F1 drivers wearing whatever t-shirts they want, and talk against the government hosting the race, animal rights, equality, or whatever. I just don’t want that to be a prominent part of the weekend. I much rather the “I’m here to race” approach.

        Focus on providing the show people paid to see. Part of the point of watching sports is to escape the annoying realities of the world.

        1. There is an agenda behind most aspects of F1 already, some of it has just been around so long that it doesn’t stick out as much as some of Vettel’s recent actions. Not just all the nationalistic flag waving (even by people, drivers and teams who don’t even live or operate in said countries), but also the politicians and corporate sponsors handing out trophies, the military posturing before a race, and the choice of where to race in the first place.

          When the extremely privileged people at the top of F1 want to “keep politics out”, that in itself is a political statement.

          1. nationalistic flag waving

            Not strictly political. Unless you consider the world being divided into separate territories….

            politicians and corporate sponsors handing out trophies

            Paid promotion and grandstanding….

            military posturing before a race

            Yep, never saw the need for that – but it does happen at non-government funded events too.

            and the choice of where to race in the first place.

            Again, not strictly political. Any country, wealthy corporation or individual can buy a place on the calendar if they throw enough money at it.

            When the extremely privileged people at the top of F1 want to “keep politics out”, that in itself is a political statement.

            Depends on exactly which politics they are talking about…
            But it can be done, if all parties want that.

          2. S, that’s a long way to say “Politics is awesome as long as it’s your politics”. After all, every single thing you cited is itself political (yes, even awarding races to the highest bidder is political because it is capitalist – simply because a political view is the default setting does not make it non-political).

          3. I don’t see politics everywhere – but apparently you do, @alianora-la-canta.

            Actually, I take that back. I am seeing it everywhere now, because people are polluting so many unrelated events and activities with political stuff.
            Not unimportant stuff – much of it certainly is – but stuff that simply doesn’t belong there.

            Transparency used to be a thing, but unfortunately nobody seems to want that anymore. As loud, proud, overt and in-your-face as possible is the order of the day now.
            As such, we as a global society become increasingly divided.

    4. +1 You wanna do whatever in your private life but don’t bring political activism to sports, its a dangerous curve, the last thing we want is Left wing Right wing discussions in F1, we already have politicians for that.

      1. @illusive Sports have been political since politics was invented, and if anything have got less political in the last few decades due to a struggle to figure out what a non-political sport would even look like.

        1. Yeah but political within its own sphere, regarding its own interests, not as a platform to promote ideology and world politics. Maybe here and there there have been cases, but never regularly.

    5. +1

      Leave ideology outside of F1.

  2. Nobody, please

  3. Probably an unpopular opinion, but I genuinly hope nobody steps in. Same for Hamilton when he quits in X years. I’ve grown tired of people virtue signaling. Not just in F1, but other sports as well. Not just that, but also the questions drivers get asked in prescons and interviews. Most of them are not even worth calling proper questions, it’s purely framed to obtain a certain answer to scoop a headline with. Whether that is media outlets (in general) becoming worse or the people coming up with questions for them, I’m not quite sure.

    There’s this idea that because the drivers are known people, they HAVE to use their voices for something good. Yet we’ve seen in recent years that it’s rather difficult to pinpoint what exactly is ‘good’. A small group of people can be very vocal about something and thus force F1-drivers to do something. Yet when you look at it objectively, you should really wonder whether what was done was actually good and contributed something.

    Point in case would be what led to ‘we race as one’. It started with having to put a black image on social media. You didn’t do that? Media called you out by name which resulted in half the grid being called terrible human beings. Then came the first time taking a knee. Drivers who put a black picture on their social media but didn’t take a knee for various reasons were again the worst beings alive. Regardless of what they had done so far. And it just kept going from there on. It was simply never enough for some. This biggest joke of it all? Even Hamilton has recently said that it didn’t led to anything because it was ‘just talk’.

    It didn’t work and nor will it ever, because you cannot force drivers to give a hoot about it. They can pretend, but everyone sees it’s not genuine. And frankly, the F1-fans that I’ve seen advocate for activism in Formula 1 are a very small group compared to the ones who say things along the line of ‘oh man, not again…’.

    So from a viewer-point of view, I wouldn’t care if nobody stepped in Sebs shoes and would prefer nobody did to begin with. Simply because that’s not what I watch F1 for. Same why I play videogames about driving F1-cars. An escape from reality. If I wanted to see some multi-millionaire claim how unfair the world is, I’d turn on a random news station.

    What I am interested in, is to see how Formula 1 would handle China attacking Taiwan in the future. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen at all, but surely it would lead to a Russia 2.0. However, Mazepin was an unlikable character (for various reasons), yet Zhou is pretty relaxed and accepted. Not to mention China is a huge market for F1. Really wonder how other drivers, F1-media and F1 itself would try to justify handling this any other than they did Russia…. because you know they will.

    1. That’s actually a very popular opinion.

    2. Aptly said!

    3. @duuxdeluxe First of all, nobody was obliged to put a black square on social media, and the only people asking for that were not listening to Black people’s wishes. The people advocating for the rights of Black people actually told people to not post anything for a day, so posting the black square was counter-productive (and posting it in the tags aimed at improving the rights of Black people was at best counterproductive and at worst something that anti-Black-rights people were doing on purpose).

      Thus, people who specifically did something Black people told them not to do (black square), refused to do something Black people requested from them (kneeling) and tried claiming in the midst of this that they understood what Black people were saying were considered hypocrites. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be much understanding that the world is not the USA and kneeling was already associated with different meanings across the world (thus could not simply have the intended protest meaning overlaid on it with equal consequence). Nor of the concept of communicative nuance (which I think is a leading factor in a bunch of people getting death threats, including people who had in fact been completely consistent in their personal position one way or another).

      “We Race As One” came across as an attempt to funnel money out of causes actually supporting Black people (and managing to insult multiple other minority groups into the bargain) in order to pay for a wealthy series’ PR campaign and taking advantage of the willingness of 20 drivers to do more for the cause than the people in power in F1. At no point did the campaign manage to do anything that looked like it wasn’t F1 being self-serving and/or manipulating/aggravating the drivers into weakening their own attempts to help Black people. In short, quietly doing more to weaken the position of Black rights than to strengthen it. Hence its unpopularity among the activists I know, and the socially-enforced backtrack in order to figure out what might actually help the cause “We Race As One” claimed to support.

      Drivers cared plenty, but the powers-that-be was so blatantly against that, it rendered the collective attempt impractical.

      I expect China attacking Taiwan would be treated exactly like Russia 2.0, and would be surprised if Zhou did not sign the agreement and get retained as a result unless other psuedopolitics between himself, his team and his sponsors got involved. (Recall that Nikita Mazepin was slow enough, and his father an unserious enough alleged “interested purchaser”/tyre-kicker, that Haas probably wanted an excuse to get rid of the duo. If Russia hadn’t invaded Ukraine, something else would have happened to remove them from F1 at some point).

      1. You think Zhou wouldn’t face consequences for effectively signing away his allegiance to his country?

        Regardless, western virtue signalling would no doubt rule again, with private corporations getting dragged into needing to maintain their public image by looking like they are doing something.
        “Sorry Guanyu, we can’t have you anymore because dealing with an innocent Chinese citizen is suddenly the wrong thing to do. It makes our shareholders feel scared that our customers might be unhappy with us, even though our sales are as strong as ever….”

  4. I have no problem with drivers doing activism or even virtue signalling (even if it does wind me up when I see the hypocrisy). I don’t want to see it on the grid however. I tune into F1 and other entertainment looking for escapism.

    These drivers have platforms on social media where they can do their activism. At least I then have the option of not looking at that stuff.

  5. I hope so. Especially as motorsport becomes more sustainable and is used to develop further green innovation.

    It’s not just about Green politics either, I hope the next generation of F1 drivers will use their platform for good and push the narrative for human rights. Hamilton and Vettel are role models and like many, I feel very proud of them to have spoken about issues when it would have been easier to stay quiet. Actions speak louder than words, and although some dismiss it as virtue-signalling, it’s not, they aren’t doing it for simple brand-enhancement, they are taking personal action and hopefully that cumulative impact will raise awareness and inspire actual political change. I don’t doubt that there is some double-standards, but speaking out is the first step to make standards better.

    Young fans might be inspired by their role models. They may not be able to emulate them by jumping in a Formula 1 car, but they can share the desire to want a better word and let that shape their decisions and life-philosophy.

    1. Just to add to this, there is a photo of Vettel in the article wearing attire promoting LGBTQ+ issues. Hamilton also wears LGBTQ+ imagery.

      I bet there are many people who see them on TV and appreciate being represented, valued and welcomed in F1. Especially if they exist in a region of the world where their very existence is seen as a crime or aberration against some belief system and their rights are crushed as a result. Yes, it may be easy to discount is as “just wearing a t-shirt” but representation and solidarity mean so much more.

    2. Jack (@jackisthestig)
      11th August 2022, 14:10

      Why are you so confident they aren’t simply doing this to signal their own virtue?

      1. Why are you so sure they are? Inside knowledge or simply that it doesn’t suit you world view?

  6. I hope the drivers keep their politics out of the sport. This is definitely one of the positives about Vettel retiring.

    1. Once Hamilton retires, there really isn’t anyone left who insist on bringing politics or activism into the sport. I’m ok if the do it discretely as NBA players used to do in the past… puting some patch on their show or whatever. I’m ok with a sticker and stuff like that. But it shouldn’t be prominent. Even if I agree with the cause they are promoting, I find it annoying.

      I’d rather see something like Vettel going to a TV program and speaking out. Because it’s a different space. Because it’s serious, and the potential for it being merely showboating are small, since the host of that German show actually challenged Seb pretty hard. I’d like to see Lewis do anything like that. Doubt it thought.

    2. Fascinating that a sport considered the pinnacle of paddock piranha politics, might be uncomfortable with drivers expressing views on basic human rights like equality or issues that affect us all, like climate change.

      Trying to understand. Discussing F1 team politics is fair game for all. Speaking out about basic human rights as a driver, not cool. Is that it?

  7. I sure hope not

  8. I could be wrong but I suspect part of the reason that Hamilton and Vettel are more proactive about using their fame is that they have probably achieved what they set out to achieve in F1 terms so could be subconsciously more comfortable with promoting other things.

    A younger driver will inevitably be more career focused whilst they try to win races and championships so maybe can’t/won’t use their position for other causes.

  9. Jack (@jackisthestig)
    11th August 2022, 14:03

    I have all the respect in the world for them as sportsmen and drivers but when it comes to politics their opinion is no more relevant than anyone else’s.

    1. Plus I suspect their behavior is also driven by wanting to be seen now their glory days are over. Socially desirable narratives as a PR story. I remember Lewis being asked in more detail about some of the causes he supports to find out he actually didn’t know a great deal about it. One sometimes wonders whether their own PR might be more important to them than the actual cause they say to support. Anyway, I dont need an F1 driver to suddenly go all activists after he has had his fun and millions. There are way more credible persons to listen to.

  10. Let’s hope so! I love being lectured how should I live by millionaires who are flying their private jets probably 100 times in a single season, while avoiding paying taxes in their home countries! Such an inspiration to all of us. BTW. How many times Vettel was seen picking up trash after grand prix since his PR stunt at Silverstone in 2021? Correct me if I’m wrong, but there are people hired specifically to clear all garbage left by F1 “fans”? BTW2. I’m doing it twice a year in area where my parents live. No bragging about it on social media though, sorry. Just anonymously clearing all garbage left by garbage people and smiling to myself after the deed is done.

    1. Armchair Expert, who I presume must be a tax expert as well, “while avoiding paying taxes in their home countries”. I’m guessing you are trying to take a swipe at Hamilton here. He pays tax in several countries according to where he earns his income, and his UK tax payments puts him in one of the top 5,000 tax payers in the UK. It is all legal and above board. Tell me, do you willingly pay more tax than is required? Do you fail to claim any tax rebates you are entitled to? No, I thought not.

      1. Eh. Maybe it’s legal and above board now. A few years ago when he was one of the names parties in the Panama papers it certainly was not.

        Most drivers protect their own financial interests. I am sure Vettel moved to Switzerland because the scenery was better than Germany, and it had nothing to do with the tax situation for multi-millionaires in either country.

        It’s fine, I don’t really care, certainly not as much as some others in these comment sections, but one can’t deny that there is a certain level of hypocrisy there.

    2. Well said

  11. Time and place.
    F1 is for F1. Politics, causes and protests have other times and places.

    1. F1 is for F1. Politics, causes and protests have other times and places.

      You see that comment a lot, but it is never made specific.

      Suppose a sports person sees something that they think is wrong or should receive more attention, like Vettel does.
      How and where should he bring that to attention if he wants to respectfully speak up about a cause.

      And – less important of a question – why would it be OK for him to use his popularity to promote Nespresso but not OK to promote f.e. equality.

      1. Suppose a sports person sees something that they think is wrong or should receive more attention, like Vettel does.
        How and where should he bring that to attention if he wants to respectfully speak up about a cause.

        Somewhere and sometime that isn’t F1, Frank.
        Perhaps their personal social media account, or a specially organised event just for that cause, or maybe even buy a TV or newspaper ad.
        But not in F1’s media time or airspace.

        And – less important of a question – why would it be OK for him to use his popularity to promote Nespresso but not OK to promote f.e. equality.

        Ah, the murky fog of promotion…
        I don’t think many people are arguing against equality (or whatever) – just that it’s simply not the right way to go about promoting it. People watch F1 because it is an escape from such social and political issues. It is meant to be fun.
        Nespresso is, to my knowledge, completely non-political – nor is it a social issue that involves fundamentally changing an aspect of society that has evolved over many thousands of years, and can’t be changed merely by wearing a T-shirt or making an awkward comment at an inappropriate time.

        Personally, I wouldn’t mind if corporate branding and product promotion was also banned – but the world is about money. Especially the F1 world.

        1. That some societal systems/habits are old is not an argument against advocating for change. It is, however, important to recognize the limits of such advocating. As the saying goes, time makes more converts than reason.

          The main problem with F1 drivers is not so much their chosen causes, but that they’re generally awful advocates for societal issues. On average, an F1 driver is a tax dodging 20-something year old millionaire whose lifestyle is almost comically inconsistent with his professed care for the general welfare of society.

        2. not in F1’s media time or airspace.

          You remain vague. But what is F1s media time or airspace? You clearly see this larger than just practice, qualifying and race sessions. I am guessing you include the official post race interviews as well. But this does not seem to be their primary ourlet.
          – Can they talk about a cause in an interview with a newspaper? An autosport magazine?
          – Can they go on f.e. Question Time?
          – Drive to Survive? Grill the Grid? Obviously designed to show the “human” side of the drivers?

          The silence clearly does not extend to the entire period they have a contract with an F1 team, as you state that messages on their social media account do not bother you.

          Nespresso is, to my knowledge, completely non-political

          Many things to unpack here.
          You could have argued that (personal) promoition happens outside of F1 time, but you didn’t. This would have been your go to argument if you were sincere about it.
          I seem to undersand from your arguments that you consider promoting a cause to be allowed as long as they earn money from it.

          just that it’s simply not the right way to go about promoting it

          It seems as if it is never deemed to be the right way.

          Personally, I see no reason why F1 driver should not be entitled to the same opinions and subject to the same restrictions as us. As long as they refrain from slander and do not urge violence, they are generally fine. I may get upset if I disagree with them, but that does not mean that they should stop saying it.

        3. You remain vague. But what is F1s media time or airspace?

          I’m not vague at all.
          When the F1 broadcast starts until it ends is F1’s time. When you arrive at the event, up until you leave it – that, too, is F1’s time.
          Outside of that, they are on their own media time. Seek out all the TV shows and websites they like.

          I seem to undersand from your arguments that you consider promoting a cause to be allowed as long as they earn money from it.

          Not really. As I said, I’d have no problem with de-commercialising F1, but the downside is that it would cease to exist….
          Products and services (paid promotion) is really only about selling something or creating a positive perception about it.
          Political/social causes, on the other hand, are a much bigger thing. That’s attempting to change society and humanity.
          As I’ve also said, that’s not necessarily wrong – a lot of things do definitely need to change – but F1 time isn’t the time. That’s car racing time. F1 audiences can get their social/political messages almost everywhere else. And do.

          It seems as if it is never deemed to be the right way.

          Of course there are always ways that are right. Nobody puts in complaints about them, because they offend nobody and take nothing away.

          1. I’m not vague at all.

            I disagree. There is a lot of vagueness about your scope. F.e. if I use your definition to answer the examples I pose, you won’t get an answer or obtain an answer that i at least a bit strange.

            – Newspaper? Autosport magazine? -> Allowed if the interview does not take place during “the event” (not sure when that starts or ends)
            – Question Time? -> Allowed, as long as it does not take place during the event, I guess.
            – Drive to Survive? Grill the Grid? -> No idea. Depends on where it is filmed and whether that counts as F1 broadcast or not.

            And this is only vagueness in terms of time/place. If we start talking about topic, things invariably encounter fuzziness. Not only when you talk about speech but especially when you talk about symbols.
            – Can they answer questions that are not related to F1? What questions are they allowed to answer? Can they talk their family or other hobbies they have? Their mental problems? Their fears?
            – Is it allowed for a driver to bring a tribute to a former champion? A father or family member? A figure of public interest?
            – Can they wear a symbol to show support for a family member who is suffering from illness or depression? Can they wear a symbol to support for a family member who is struggling with their sexuality? For a friend? For other people?

          2. I reckon if you read and consider what I’ve said and really think about it, you’ll understand there isn’t much vagueness.
            Do you actually want me to cover off every possible scenario?
            My reply would closely resemble F1’s sporting regulations if I did. Or at least, what some people want the sporting regs to look like…

    2. As much as this is repeated, it will never be true. Sport and politics will always be intermingled, especially in high profile international sports like F1. The head in the sand approach will only get you so far. But I suppose it’s easier for people to label someone a hypocrite or to say sport shouldn’t be political than to actually engage and address real world problems that impact us all.

      1. As much as this is repeated, it will never be true. Sport and politics will always be intermingled

        This is only true when people want them to be, by deliberately and intentionally bringing one to the other, @tommy-c.
        And when they do mingle, it becomes very divisive.

        The head in the sand approach will only get you so far.

        Heads are not in the sand, they are merely able to differentiate between the appropriate or inappropriate environment and atmosphere to bring up a particular subject.
        How often do you talk about your toilet habits at the dinner table? How about bringing up that nasty infection on your leg while riding in an elevator with 6 other people? Do you like to loudly discuss your personal income and wealth while on the phone in a packed train?
        There’s a time and place for discussing all of these things, but not in those particular environments.
        When people watch or attend a sporting event, it’s worth acknowledging and respecting that the vast majority of those people really only want to see the sport that the event is built around.

        Sport shouldn’t be political – that’s what politics is for. They are separated for a reason…

        1. It might be uncomfortable but F1 needs to have discussion around its environmental impact. I think it’s sad that looking after the planet has become divisive and as politicised as it is but an international sport with the image F1 has definitely needs to address it. The appropriate time and place is everywhere all the time. There is nothing taboo in this space that is even remotely comparable to the examples you have provided. Equality and representation for minority groups is another such issue for which there is no taboo. The more talk the better. We can’t ignore these things because they make us uncomfortable. If they make us uncomfortable, it’s probably worth asking why?

          1. It might be uncomfortable but F1 needs to have discussion around its environmental impact.

            100% agree.
            But not during an event.

            The appropriate time and place is everywhere all the time.

            100% disagree.
            I could give you 1000 examples, to which you would probably reply “They aren’t comparable” because you are flippantly dismissing a viewpoint that is different to your own.

            We aren’t ignoring these issues – we are merely asking to put off hearing those messages for a couple of hours.
            Is that really too much to ask?
            The why, if you still haven’t figured it out, is because F1 is entertainment – as in something fun people do to escape the mundane realities of the world. Even if only for a very short time.
            Could you respect our wishes, just for that long?

            After the race, normality will resume and we’ll be bombarded with messages of how we and all our ancestors are the worst creatures ever to have lived, and how we are stealing our children’s future, and destroying our planet.
            And at that time, we’ll be able to consider our values and what we should do about it without distraction.
            If we so choose.

        2. Seb isn’t talking about his bowel movements though he’s talking about preventing climate change the at will make the world uninhabitable in the not-too-near future if we do nothing (and we are still doing nothing 60 years on from knowing about the problem). If you don’t like it now, get ready – it’s going to get a lot worse after the 10th time a new record high temperature is recorded in London a few years from now.

          1. Which is not something that can be solved during an F1 race…..

  12. Probably noone. The F1 leadership doesn’t like to encourage this kind of thing.
    But if I had to predict a troublemaker I’d say Oscar Piastri. He has even joined yet and he’s already shaking trees.

    1. he is violently disturbing a whole forest lol

  13. Activist drivers? Only drivers will do!

  14. Can we have activist Sky pundits instead? At least then I’ll never have to listen to them.

  15. I seem to be in a distinct minority here, but I do hope that someone will step up and carry the example of Vettel and Hamilton on.

    I realize that we have different expectations when tuning in to F1, and I respect the view that “I don’t want to be confronted with that in this context”.

    But for me, personally, it doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the racing, and I appreciate the drivers’ giving issues a high visibility. Yes, they can (do and should) use other platforms for that, too, but again, it really does not bother me. WIth the obvious caveat that I have found myself roughly aligned with most (though not all) of the issues that they have brought up. Admittedly, I would feel different about a driver that choose to promote “white power” or similar.

    Is there a level of hypocrisy to some of it? Absolutely, and it would be better if it was not. I think Vettel adressed that in an intelligent and reasoned manner in his recent statements.

    I was very impressed with Norris’ openess about mental challenges, and applaud his use of his F1 platform to bring attention it that. But then again, I am a mental health professional, so I am biased.

    I realize that we may hold very different views on this, and I am fine with that. But this is my view, like it or dislike it.

    1. I like it and I agree with all you have put down. +100

  16. Those aging ballerinas need some activism to attract some attention to their sagging… uhm… erm… body parts.
    If one doesn’t have a slightest idea about his/her/etc. own opinion about gender, sexual orientation, political agenda, climate, what pet to buy etc. and looking for answers in yellow press from the stars or more likely so-called stars be they artists, actors, racers, musicians, bloggers, I wonder do they have some brains to begin with?
    Just look at Greta…
    Hope such brainwashing will end soon.
    P.S. I’ve listened to Queen since early 70’s and only at the end of 80’s when the Iron Curtain fell I learned Freddie was gay. So what?
    He never mentioned that side of his nature in his performances and they were breathtaking.
    All we need is breathtaking races, fair battles, extreme performances by the best drivers in the world and experience highest emotions from their racecraft, wins and loses.
    I have my own brains to decide what music, politics, girls, beer, movies, art to prefer.
    Thank you Seb, goodbye, I don’t need your rainbow shirt.

    1. ‘P.S. I’ve listened to Queen since early 70’s and only at the end of 80’s when the Iron Curtain fell I learned Freddie was gay. So what?
      He never mentioned that side of his nature in his performances and they were breathtaking.’
      Maybe if homosexuals hadn’t been mocked, discriminated against and treated as second class citizens all that time, then perhaps Freddie would have felt relaxed enough to be open with it in public. Being openly gay back then could well derail a successful career and it’s exactly the reason why Elton John, George Michael and Boy George (to name a few) all kept the details of their sexual persuasion very private.

      1. I meant whomever they are and whatever they preach and/or do in their bedrooms (Who cares? I adore Freddie Mercury and many other artists but not because they were or weren’t gays, lesbians etc.), people in need of some guidelines shouldn’t follow their role models blindly.

        1. They cared, until 1967 it was an ofense in England and Wales

          And until 1981 in Scotland

    2. They aren’t asking you to prefer some other beer, music, politics, girls, etc., they are asking that you pay attention to hugely significant world problems that wouldn’t BE problems if people paid attention to them. You are the reason why Seb and Louis have to make these statements.

  17. The bulk of the comments on here are pretty depressing. All you people who think anyone speaking out for social injustices and inequalities shouldn’t dare interrupt your Sunday afternoons, you are part of the problem.

    1. The problem here is if I paid for F1 TV, all I want to see is F1. If I want to fight injustices and inequalities I DON’T pay for F1 and go to some political rallies for free.

      1. I’m really sorry that people fighting against injustices that have affected people for their entire lives for many many generations has caused you to be uncomfortable for a few additional hours. Imagine never being able to escape it because you’re one of the affected people. Every single minute of every single hour of every single day you can not escape it. But you’re paying for F1TV so you should have the privilege of not experiencing being uncomfortable for a few additional hours.

        1. Sergey Martyn
          12th August 2022, 6:13

          Well, I believe you already sold your house to help the affected.

          1. Classic Whataboutism that results from not being able to refute my argument. But since you’re curious, no I haven’t sold my house to help the affected but I have donated, continue to donate, and will donate a significant portion of my yearly income to organizations fighting against injustices. I also have marched in protest against injustices a number of times. I actively lobby elected officials to help enact legislative protections and induce positive change. I volunteer with aid organizations for those who have been affected.

      2. “Dance, monkey!”

  18. I don’t think that anyone is advocating that these drivers should not be entitled to an opinion or be able to be activists in their own right, it’s really that somehow nowadays the concept of the “proper forum” has been forgotten. Not every situation is a pulpit from which to preach. Wouldn’t it be strange if a Formula One car came racing through the set of Meet the Press or question time?

  19. It is not their opinions per se that bother me. It is how abysmally hypocritical they all sound.

    Also I am bothered by the unfairness of it all. F1 pilots may be world-class drivers, but their opinions on non-racing issues are not better than anybody else’s (and mostly they are only copy-paste platitudes not worth a millisecond of anybody’s time). I find my hairdresser’s opinions a lot more interesting but unfortunately no journo ever asks about them.

    1. I like the way the late James Caan put it. He is sometimes quoted as “Nobody should give a @@@@ about an actor’s opinion on politics” but the real quote is much better:
      “I find it offensive when actors go on news shows and spout their political views, They don’t exactly have political science degrees, who cares what they think?”

      1. Sergey Martyn
        12th August 2022, 8:13


        I remember that episode of Top Gear when Richard Hammond tried to drive a Renault R25 which he stalled several times before it even started moving. Driving an F1 car is one of the most demanding things a human being can do because of the strain on the body, and more importantly the strain on the mind. Same with political, climate, gender etc. issues. If you didn’t dedicate your education, life to these issues why should we hear from the clown’s opinions? Just look at Annalena Baerbock – former trampoline gymnast, now German foreign minister… Uneducated dimwit wench from The Greens.

      2. José Lopes da Silva
        13th August 2022, 22:52

        Former President Trump does not have a political science degree either.

        1. And he’s made that abundantly clear.

        2. Sergey Martyn
          14th August 2022, 8:50

          And current president Biden can’t find his own butt with two hands and a flashlight…

          1. José Lopes da Silva
            14th August 2022, 10:59

            You surely don’t need a degree to say that. You just need to a 6-year old mentality.

  20. Doug Adamavich
    11th August 2022, 21:18

    I say get the wokeness out of all sports. In the end, sports are entertainment and should be an enjoyable activity. They give us a chance to cheer for our teams or players without first having to think “Does he agree with me on _____?”

    Wokeness is dividing people, needlessly I must say. While I appreciate Vettel and Hamilton’s sublime talents, their woke nonsense is noxious to me (and probably many others). I don’t care what they have to say, just drive and race hard. After all, that’s what I am paying for as a fan.

    Relaxing whilst watching our favorite sport should be fun; yet with increasing wokeness this seems like a difficult ask.

    For the drivers and teams there is this reminder too, fans have alternatives and only a relatively small percentage cares about woke nonsense.

    1. Can you define “woke” please?

      1. I’ve come to realise “woke” basically just means “I don’t want to think because this challenges my inherent beliefs”

        1. It means the opposite actually. Woke as in awoken to societal injustices especially regarding racism. Seb’s brand of activism isn’t really wokeness. I see it more as pragmatic call to action while we can still make a change. The fact that we are still doing nothing about climate change shows that statements in F1 interviews and pres conferences highlighting these problems are absolutely needed as in other sports and entertainment.

      2. @oweng – “woke: alert to injustice in society, especially racism

        I used to hate the term “woke” until I learnt what it meant. Now I’m glad to call myself woke and am perplexed how it gets used as an insult. I guess to call someone “informed” or “educated” just doesn’t sound as biting!

        1. I’m sure you both know exactly why the term ‘woke’ has negative connotations.

          1. I personally have no idea why it has negative connotations. The definition is clear.

            It’s interesting how it gets used in this context. All Vettel, Hamilton and Norris have been doing is using their voice to highlight certain issues or injustices in the world. They’re still racing, nothing has changed on track, they aren’t missing box box box calls because they’re reading out a statement about climate change on team radio mid race. They are just highlighting issues. Apparently this is “woke nonsense”. The only conclusion to draw from that is people don’t think those issues should be highlighted by people with a platform.

            The only reasons I can see for that is people don’t want it highlighted either because they don’t think it exists or that they don’t mind/care that it exists and would rather not hear anything about it thank you very much.

            It obviously does exist, so people who describe this highlighting of issues as “woke nonsense” must just want to minimise the issue or deny it. It’s a disgusting attitude to have an a complete hinderance to progression as a society.

          2. I personally have no idea why it has negative connotations.

            The view of the world from your cave must be quite wonderful.

            The only conclusion to draw from that is people don’t think those issues should be highlighted by people with a platform.

            That is most certainly not the only conclusion.
            I’d suggest that another possibility is that people don’t think those issues should be highlighted in a certain context – ie. within a certain platform.
            Another is that people think those ‘with a platform’ are equal to them, and feel they are being spoken down to, possibly even in a demeaning or shaming manner.

            The only reasons I can see for that is people don’t want it highlighted either because they don’t think it exists or that they don’t mind/care that it exists and would rather not hear anything about it thank you very much.

            What’s wrong with that?
            Do you think that some racing driver talking about climate change is going to educate them and completely change their beliefs and values?
            Everyone knows about these things now because those issues are everywhere in the media and every other aspect of life. It’s almost impossible to not know enough, and actually impossible to not do your own research.
            Can’t at least a small section of life be cordoned off from such things? It’s simply an unnecessary intrusion.

            It’s a disgusting attitude to have an a complete hinderance to progression as a society.

            It’s a disgusting attitude to not allow people to think differently, and hold different values and beliefs.
            What is progression anyway? What does that mean?
            It’s pretty subjective, wouldn’t you agree?

          3. José Lopes da Silva
            13th August 2022, 22:50

            How does Vettel “preaching” (love the word) about climate change stops you from think differently?

            Why do you want to think differently and get a shield from an unnecessary intrusion at the same time?

            Progression is when countries realize that ozone is diminishing in the atmosphere and enact a collective treaty to solve that problem (the Montreal Protocol of 1987). Seems pretty objective, don’t you agree?

  21. While apparently an unpopular opinion from the people replying to this article, I certainly hope they are more activist drivers in F1’s future. Some of my favorite athletes have been people who have used their platform as athletes to fight against injustices. Muhammad Ali. Kareem Abdul Jabar. Arthur Ashe.
    Billie Jean King. Roberto Clemente. Etc.

  22. I hope we don’t see too many more ‘activist’ drivers. The problem with this ‘activism’ is that it is popular activism, these rich PR machine driven sports personalities are not tackling unpopular causes or subjects, they are jumping on extremely easy and popular opinions that give them a nice PR boost and WA and fuzzy avenue for interviews with garbage political driven outlets.

    A true activist isn’t out there picking popular causes, they are risking something because it is vitally important to them, they are mostly willing to die for a cause. Our PR driven ‘activists’ in F1 very conveniently pick softball easy causes that are so bland and obvious that it is clearly non offensive virtue pretending to gain followers.

    Activism is unpopular and against the grain of the status quo, not reinforcement of current day politics.

    1. *warm and fuzzy, not WA and fuzzy (stupid phone)

  23. What is it about the notion of looking after our planet better that upsets people so much? I honestly will never understand. Keep up the good fight Seb and hopefully someone else will take the baton.

    1. Again, @tommy-c – it’s not the cause or the message that is wrong, it’s the method of delivery.

      1. I don’t think so, because people still get upset by experts in their field saying the same things. There’s nothing controversial or new about Vettel pointing out the damage we’re causing. The difference is that he has greater reach than the average researcher. Delivery doesn’t matter if the argument is sound. Delivery only matters to those who wish to avoid engaging in discussion.

        1. I don’t think so, because people still get upset by experts in their field saying the same things.

          But they don’t do it at unrelated sporting events, do they….

          I’m all for the discussion, if you think people are merely shying away from it.
          But not here, on a motorsports site.
          Let’s pop over to another site to discuss such issues, shall we? Any time is good, except on Sundays when the car racing is on. My mind is focusing on other things.

      2. I think it’s that people don’t like to be reminded that they are watching tele and scrolling the tiktocks while the world crumbles. It makes them feel bad about themselves and that’s why they think they are being ‘preached to’. I think those people should feel bad about themselves. If you do not insist on change for a livable future you are part of the problem.

        1. Again – change is important to the point of being necessary.
          Preaching it at an F1 event is tone-deaf, at best.

  24. I hope not. We dont need anymore mega rich types pushing fashionable freedom hating left wing causes.

  25. There are a number of misguided comments here about keeping politics out of Formula One, a sport that relies heavily on government subsidies as well as sponsorship from car manufacturers and other large corporations to function.

    Just the act of holding a street race in a major city is political. It’s common to see politicians awarding driver trophies at podium ceremonies, usually to claim credit for bringing the race to their city.

    It also wasn’t that long ago cigarette manufacturers were still advertising on cars and trackside at circuits. I don’t think I need to elaborate on how much political clout they once had.

    More recently F1 has partnered with a cryptocurrency company, a technology which has its own problems with emissions and environmental waste (though not so much now since the recent crypto crash). When countries like China ban cryptocurrency outright, this kind of partnership is political.

    How quickly we’ve forgotten about the missile strike mere kilometres from the circuit in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, with some drivers (and others in F1, as well as many fans) questioning whether the race should be cancelled, and others wishing it for it to go ahead because “the show must go on”, and perhaps out fear of being held in Saudi Arabia should things escalate post-cancellation. All of this is political.

    Taking politics out of F1 is wishful thinking for as long as there is money involved. And F1 is about huge sums of money. More than ever before. Your weekend escapism still operates in the real world, with real consequences.

    1. The most political thing in F1 this year is surely the cancelling of the Sochi contract and the ejection of Mazepin. Those advocating no politics in F1 presumably were very upset when Sochi was taken off the calendar and outraged at Mazepin’s removal and they would support the reinstatement of both.

      Two instances where mixing sport and politics ended up with a good result

      1. I personally don’t miss either of them, but the reason they are no longer associated with F1 is very wrong, @mrfill.
        Neutral about the outcome, but extremely disappointed in the process.

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          13th August 2022, 22:35

          I loathe the invasion of Ukraine too.

    2. Okay, but the kind of politics you’re describing is not what Vettel is putting on his helmet or t-shirt. He’s more about preaching to the fans about his favorite social causes.

  26. I wish they had activists suspension.

  27. In general this comes with age and a false sense of entitlement. Luckily the new batch of drivers is more down to earth

    1. Until they on the downward slope of their career, and are looking for their next challenge to focus on.

      1. Could be if history repeats itself. But I have got a feeling the new generation will do it more frictionless and natural, less ‘needs to rub off on my personality too’ but more towards the actual objective of inspiring change. Authentic.

        1. It’s a guess… probably making a forecast. We’ll see. By frictionless and natural, it’s still politicking and people will have problems with it.

          we’ll wait till if or when they are on a downward slope…

  28. Not only has sport been political for as long as politics has existed, but motorsport has always been unusually political even by sporting standards due to the amount of money, technology and prestige involved. Since the first of these is unavoidable for motorsport, this will always be the case.

    There’s a limit to how much escapism is possible in a series that is, by necessity, so deeply obliged to the forces one might be trying to escape. Remember: if cash is king, necessity is emperor.

    1. Money, by itself, does not equate directly to politics.

      Remember, there was a time when F1 wasn’t anywhere near the commercial heavyweight it is now.

  29. I truly hope not. It’d be nice to watch something without having to be preached to about the latest trending political or social cause. I like Vettel, but it’s not like we didn’t know about these issues before Seb.

    1. It’s also not like Vettel talking about them is suddenly going to change anyone’s values or decisions.

  30. I’m shocked to read so many comments reacting negatively to Vettel’s activist statements. We have some serious problems in the world and governments are not paying attention to them. People with a platform have the duty to use that platform to bring attention to these problems. There are more important things in life than tire degradation. Activist statements or actions by Vettel, Hamilton, or even Ricciardo don’t distract from racing at all but do bring significant world problems to the attention of people who may not be paying attention to these problems otherwise. If someone is not insisting on action to limit greenhouse gas emissions to prevent climate change they are either not paying attention or have greatly distorted priorities to think that convenience now is more important than the survival of future generations. If Seb pointing this out to you during a race weekend gets your knickers in a knot you should probably reconsider your priorities in life. Insist on change now to secure a livable future. If you have a platform, use that platform to insist on change now to secure a livable future. If you think it’s too much now just wait another 10 years. It’s going to get a lot worse if no action is taken.

    The F1 is a polluting sport and these statements are hypocrisy line is a bogus attempt to undermine these statements. F1 doesn’t pollute particularly much – it’s some of the sponsors who do. We should rejoice if Saudi Aramco stops sponsoring F1 because of such statements by drivers, not concerned by this. F1 doesn’t need to be tied to dirty Saudi money just to be profitable. That is not a sustainable business model and isn’t going to keep F1 going into its 100th year.

    There is no need to point out that activism and sport have always been mixed, even in F1. Statements otherwise are just ignorant attempts to undermine today’s activism. I just can’t imagine someone reacting negatively to Seb saying that people in Hungary should be free from persecution because they are into the same sex for example. He shouldn’t have to say this, but alas he does and should continue to do so until it stops. I’d rather hear that than some empty statements about why he finished 14th when the real answer is the Aston Martin is a bad car and he isn’t going to criticize the work of his team.

  31. I’ve noticed that I’m more and more gravitating towards IndyCar. It’s not only the activism and virtue signalling of F1, but IndyCar seems more real and down to earth too.

  32. José Lopes da Silva
    13th August 2022, 22:33

    100+ comments… seems this news is more interesting than Latifi’s performance or Piastri’s shenanigans.

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